David Brin is a scientist, speaker, technical consultant and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages.
His 1989 ecological thriller, Earth, foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and near-future trends such as the World Wide Web*. A 1998 movie, directed by Kevin Costner, was loosely based on The Postman.
As a public "scientist/futurist" David appears frequently on TV, including, most recently, on many episodes of "The Universe" and on the History Channel's best-watched show (ever) "Life After People." He also was a regular cast member on "The ArciTECHS." (For others, see "Media and Punditry.")
As a speaker and on television, David Brin shares unique insights -- serious and humorous -- about ways that changing technology may affect our future lives. Brin lives in San Diego County with his wife, three children, and a hundred very demanding trees.
QM: With all the many things you are involved with we'd like to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. We also wonder if you every sleep, eat, or any of the other daily tasks we slackers do?
DB: Alas, life has become frenetic, with speeches and consulting work, my new inventions, and three active kids (the biggest project of all!) Because of this, I am forced to draw some lines, if only to save some time for writing! Alack...I am very late in my current novel.
When did you realize you wanted to write?
riting was not my own first choice of a career. True, I came from a family of writers. It was in my blood. But I wanted something else -- to be a scientist. And by the fates, I became one.
I also had this hobby though -- writing stories -- and it provided a lot of satisfaction. I always figured that I'd scribble a few stories a year... maybe a novel now and then... while striving to become the best researcher and teacher I could be.
Don't mistake this for modesty! It's just that I perceive science -- the disciplined pursuit of truth -- to be a higher calling than spinning imaginative tales, no matter how vivid, innovative, or even deeply moving those tales may turn out to be.
Which came first: publication or landing an agent?
Nowadays, almost nobody gets an agent first. You make your first sale, then approach an agent with a done-deal in hand. That's when you are a proved commodity in his or her eyes. Sure, it sounds frustrating and ironic. But there it is.
How did it feel when you got your first acceptance letter?
Actually, I got a phone call. I had sort of given up on Bantam and had just sent my manuscript to another publisher. When the editor heard that, she made a very nice offer on the spot.
Who was your favorite author when you were young?
Robert Sheckley, for his wonderful short stories. Sure I devoured Heinlein and Asimov, Bradbury and clarke. But the best actual storyteller I ever knew was Poul Anderson. He was a genuine old bard from the days when we listened to epics by the campfire. Of course I went on to Huxley and Joyce, Orwell and Vonnegut, Homer and Pynchon. Science fiction has a core of speculative adventuresomeness that encompasses beyond its official boundaries.
Who's work do you enjoy now?
Michael Chabon, Vernor Vinge, Greg Bear, Charles Stross... and nonfiction authors like Robert Wright... but I've got teenagers and deadlines. Who has time to read?
You've written both fiction and non-fiction. Do you approach them differently?
We are many, inside. These inner selves share some obsessions and talents. But then you have to let them out, each to do his own thing.
Can science fiction change the world?
It may be the other way around. Confident, problem solving civilizations tend to like science fiction. Americans did, until the 1990s or so, when it became a downer propaganda tool _against_ the can-do spirit. I blame especially Hollywood, where the message in most sci fi flicks is "never trust civilization, it is rotten to the core."
What are you working on now and what can you tell our readers about it?
I'm hard at work on a sprawling near future novel called "Existence." It explores how we might evade the many dozens of pitfalls that could extinguish humanity... cheery and light, like my novel EARTH!
And yes, folks want more Uplift. I do hope to get back to Tom, Creideiki and other Uplift adventures. (I assume you've read the SECOND uplift trilogy, starting with Brightness Reef? ) Till then, see the story "Temptation" downloadable at http://www.davidbrin.com/shortstories.html Some will argue that "Existence," is uplift!
What most frightens you most about the future?
Loss of our native eagerness for the future and for change. Propaganda from all directions -- both right and left and most religions, and atheism and most of the arts -- ALL seem determined to rant at us one common theme, that science and technology and calm negotiation and courteous disagreement and vigorous problem solving are all old-fashioned and obsolete notions. Whining is the modern habit. I can't wait till the boomers retire to Florida and leave civilization in the hands of a more mature generation.
The backbone of our web-zine is an online writer's group, so we'd like to ask for a little advice for our developing authors. What is the most important thing someone starting out should do?
See TONS of advice -- for free (!) at http://www.davidbrin.com/advice.htm
Best of luck and keep writing!